How you’re killing your business with tension

You spend a fortune building your business, marketing your fine food and drink, hiring and training (hopefully) the best staff you can find, you invest in ingredients and more utility costs than you ever expected. All with one goal: to wow the customer and have them come back again. At least that’s what I think your goal should be.

Feel free to correct me or share with me a different goal, but if you break yours down, I’m pretty sure it will involve delivering stellar service and fare.

Yet your business isn’t busy, your reviews online suck and you don’t know why it’s costing you so much money to attract and keep customers coming back.

Well consider this; you create so much negative tension in your dealings with customers that you’ll never be told about by a customer and your staff don’t even realize its happening.

This blog post is the result of an experience I had recently where I was reminded of just how many points of tension there are in your business, either in the service standards or instances when customers go “off script”. Here are just a few of these instances to consider and bear in mind they can have a serious impact on how your customer perceives the business initially and what lasting impression they leave with:


The host

Whenever a customer approaches the host for the first time looking for a table, they are in most cases having their first impressions created. How good are these impressions? Who cares if you’re full and its going to be a twenty minute wait. Make the customer feel like you’re going to move heaven and earth to get him seated as quickly as possible. What good is it doing to act passive aggressively and inquire why they didn’t make a reservation. Do you know how much money it has taken you as a business owner to get this customer to the door. KEEP HIM THERE! Don’t let him leave, don’t piss him off, make him feel like he’s the first and most important customer of the night. Period. You can make this as tense as you want it to be. Choose the right host, show them the difference between tension and terrific.

The “its not my station” server


We’ve all had them, we’ve all worked with them and most of us have hired them at one point or another. The customer couldn’t give a hoot whose station this is or whether one server pours the water and another takes the order. As a customer I didn’t ask for your business plan or station layout, I just wanted some more bread. Referring me to some other server creates tension, impatience and for those of us who know what good service is, it creates an impression of chaos and poor management. Tension or terrific? Your choice and you have many of them.

One check or two?


This may be the most irrelevant, dumb, idiotic question I have ever heard. While dining with my wife I have been asked this question at the end of the meal, when taking clients out for lunch I have been asked, heck, I’m pretty sure I’ve even been asked it when dining alone! There’s no need for a server to ask this question. It creates unnecessary tension and demands customers make a decision that shouldn’t need to be made publicly to the server. 95% of your customers will know what to do when a single check comes. Most are smart enough to split it themselves if they want to or give you instructions if you need to make some changes. Most will never ask you as a server to do anything more than process their cards, so remove this unnecessary service “standard” and concentrate on giving me the best possible parting impression I can have of your business.

So you have a choice as a business owner. You can assume that once the building is built and the servers are hired that the work is done and that any drop in business is “beyond explanation” or you can step up and address the fact that your staff may not be working in the best interests of your business every day. They may be using bad habits they picked up somewhere else, service “standards” that annoy and infuriate customers and conversation styles that woul dbe best left in the gutter where they found them.

Walk through your business form a customer perspective, see what they see. It’s rarely what you see.

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